A window in time

“Small Steps, Great Strides:” The Movie

stained glass

It's hard to believe that two stained-glass windows are the reasons why Saint Joseph's College moved to Sebago Lake in October of 1956. The significance of these windows is detailed in a new documentary film by communications professor John Hufstader, titled "Small Steps, Great Strides: 50 years on the Lake." Sr. Mary George O'Toole, Vice President for Sponsorship and Mission Integration, commissioned the film to commemorate The 50th anniversary of relocating Saint Joseph. Her desire was "to capture history ... to keep it from being forgotten and to put it in a stable form."

Near her desk she keeps a handwritten reminder from Sr. Consuela White, which reads in part, "Forgetting is the easiest thing in the world to do, and the hardest to recover from."

In this very memorable 60-minute documentary, Hufstader expertly weaves a wide range of college artifacts, societal images and music of the decades in depicting the transformation of the small, cramped-for-space women's college in Portland, Maine, to the present-day co-ed institution on 350 acres in Standish. "This film is a historical document for the College," says Hufstader, who produced, directed, edited and co-wrote it.

Communications professor William Yates, who narrated and co-wrote the film, concurs. "This documentary film incorporates video, stills, 8mm and 16mm film footage. There's a power in taking things from disparate places and formats and using one tool - this DVD - to create history."

Personal interviews with alumni, faculty and administrators give the film a comprehensive depth. Hufstader says he is glad that he played a role in creating a film that pays tribute to the Sisters of Mercy. "They tend to keep in the background, yet they made things happen," he notes.

Asked how she wants viewers to feel after seeing the film, Sr. Mary George responded, "I would want them to feel very good about their connectedness with Saint Joseph's College. I would want them to realize that who we are today is attributable to so many wonderful people who have been a part of us these many years."

Oh, those stained glass windows? In 1954, during a site visit by Superior General Mother Mary Evangelist and her assistant Mother Mary Edwina to determine the property's viability as a new campus location, the two windows were discovered in a small chapel below the main house. When the Sisters recognized the figures in the glass were their own patron saints, they knew that this was the sign from God they had been praying for - and that Standish was the right place for Saint Joseph's College.

The windows were recently restored to their original vibrant colors ... and await the transformation of the next 50 years.

For more information about the documentary, contact Sr. Mary George O'Toole at mgotoole@sjcme.edu or (207) 893-7708.

Documentary about Saint Joseph's College:
"Small Steps, Great Strides: 50 Years on the Lake"

Produced, directed and edited by John Hufstader
Co-written by William Yates, Sr. Mary George O'Toole and John Hufstader

Available to view at www.sjcme.edu/video (high-speed Internet recommended)

by Brent Wooten